As you probably know, we’re big fans of tiny houses at Whole People but you may be shocked to learn that in some states tiny houses are illegal!
Well, technically, there are no laws against tiny houses in any state but there are plenty of laws that prevent you from building a tiny home.
Which States Won’t Allow Tiny Homes?
Again, we need to stress, these states don’t have laws against tiny houses per se but their overall legal framework makes it all but impossible to build a tiny home in them.
So, don’t start trying to arrange finance for a tiny home in these places, you’re going to get turned down immediately.
And those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming!
Why do these states forbid tiny homes? It varies from state to state but mainly it has to do with zoning and safety regulations.
You won’t be able to obtain a specific permit or permits that you’re required to provide and without those permits, your “home” won’t legally be deemed as somewhere fit for human habitation.
What Are The Key Barriers To The Legality Of Tiny Homes?
It’s not so much the size of tiny homes (see our guide to tiny homes for details on sizes, etc.) that has your average lawmaker hot and bothered but the fact that those homes are, generally speaking, built on wheels.
Many of the states above, simply don’t allow houses on wheels. Some, on the other hand, don’t mind the wheels but will come down hard on someone who takes their tiny home off the trailer it’s moved on – watch out for this.
Location, Location, Location
In some states, it’s the zoning regulations that forbid you from having a tiny home on a residential plot.
However, it’s often possible to get around this by putting your tiny home on someone else’s privately owned land.
So, for example, you might find a farmer that will give you the corner of a field to locate in and this can avoid any hassle from the zoning authority.
Some states, on the other hand, don’t object to you living in your tiny home some of the time, they just object to you living there all the time.
Why? Well, part-time occupation can be viewed as “recreational” rather than residential use.
So, if you want to just try out living in a tiny home before committing to it, you may have more options than you think as to which states you can do this in.
What Should I Do If Tiny House Living Is Illegal In My State?
We could be glib and say “don’t build a tiny house” but given the benefits of living in tiny homes, we think it’s important for everyone to have the option of living in one.
The main reason that tiny homes are illegal is that planning laws haven’t caught up with the concept and do you know what?
They probably won’t catch up if you don’t encourage local lawmakers to pay attention to tiny homes.
Write to people and request action on this, get together with other would-be tiny home owners and lobby administrators and public officials for change.
If other states can make changes, so can your state, you just need to make it happen and with enough time and patience, we’re positive that it will happen.
Of course, the other option is to move somewhere that they do allow tiny houses and there are plenty of places that do.
So you might consider Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont or Washing, instead.
Final Thoughts On Illegal Tiny Houses
If no person should be illegal, then no home that’s safe to live in should be illegal either. However, we understand the current position – the tiny house movement is new and until recently, Americans wanted to occupy a ton of floor space at home.
We think that over the next decade or two, most of these states will, eventually, welcome tiny home owners but until then, there are still plenty of other states that already do.